Property manager's scam tricks bosses and clients
A rogue estate agent swindled new tenants for more than a year by making them pay bogus parking charges and pocketing the money.
Single mother Jodie Isaac, aged 24, also stole thousands of pounds worth of deposits and rent that she should have passed on to her employers.
Isaac was taken on as manager by the long-established family firm of Watts and Sons in Tiverton to develop their lettings business, but fleeced both the firm and its clients.
One of the ways in which she took money was to tell new tenants they had to pay her charges for parking in cash, Exeter Crown Court was told.
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Isaac, of Cudmore Park, Tiverton, admitted theft and was jailed for six months, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 150 hours unpaid community work by Recorder Mr Kevin de Haan QC.
He told her: "Stealing from an employer is an extremely serious offence because a small business like this has put their trust in you and when employees take money dishonestly it causes enormous financial harm.
"In this economic climate businesses have less capacity to absorb loss and in this case the cost is not just directly in the money you took but also in loss of confidence.
"You stole £7,000 over 16 months and I have to take into account the anguish you have caused to the Watts family and to their customers. There was an element of concealment.
"You have a young child with difficulties and if you were to go to prison you would be separated from him and that would cause anguish to your whole family. Go away, and don't come back."
Janice Eagles, prosecuting, said Isaac was taken on to start and manage a lettings business by Lynn Watts, the daughter of the family company's founder.
Miss Eagles said: "Isaac presented herself despite her young age as somebody with experience of lettings and was therefore trusted to run that side of the business. She abused that trust by stealing. She did this by asking for cash payments from tenants and took sums of £300 to £500 for deposits and rent and other payments, including parking charges she invented."
She added that the firm estimated its losses as about £9,000, a higher figure than the £7,000 which Isaac has admitted.
Mr Lee Bremridge, defending, said Isaac had repaid £3,000 by borrowing money off her grandmother and selling her car.
He said she was not in overall charge and was working flexible hours and had gone to the police of her own accord when the thefts came to light.